by Judith Allen
Our Millie thinks deep thoughts, encounters storm clouds along the way and learns a lesson
|Our Millie used to say that sometimes lookin' for the bad in life just takes too much time and energy that could be spent in enjoyin' the good when it's right under your nose.
In which Our Millie thinks deep thoughts, encounters storm clouds and plops of rain along the way, and learns a lesson about attitude and sunshine.
Our Millie was sittin' on the front porch playin' withher paper dolls that Cousin Marnie had brought her when she came for a visit from the city. She liked the way she could cut out the clothes and fold the little tabs over the dolls shoulders and waist and put them on the little plastic stands that came with the set. She put them up all around her on the top step and changed different outfits and even made new combinations of clothes and hats. Maybe she would be a fashion designer when she grew up and live in New York City and everybody would love her designs and Big Mil would be so proud. She only wished this set had some cowgirl skirts and boots and maybe a guitar for them to hold. But these were city paper dolls and that wouldn't fit in. Maybe next time she could ask Cousin Marnie is she could find a country set, but that wouldn't be right 'cause she never asked for anything and she didn't want to put any pressure on her cousin to find somethin' special for her. It was just nice to be thought of at all.
It was a Sunday afternoon and church was over, the kitchen was clean and the dishes out away. Big Mil was finishin' some mendin' she had been puttin' of, though mostly it just stayed on her lap and she and grandma were talkin' about the past, reminisin' Our Millie thought it was called. She thought that was such a pretty word and wanted to write it down in her word journal that she had started so she wouldn't forget words she liked, but she didn't really know how to spell it so she would have to think on it for awhile.
Everybody had gone to church except Grandpa and Pa. They took their poles and went to the creek to get some fishin' in. They said fishin' was their way of havin' religion and there ain't nothin' like bein' on the bank of the creek with the fish just jumpin' on your line and not thinkin' about much of anything to make you appreciate your maker and life and livin'. Our Millie agreed with that, but Grandma made her gomtomchurch anyway.
Grandpa said you can't forget the story about the loaves and the fished in the good book and with them bringin' the fishes and Grandma bakin' the bread they could have their own feast and be mighty thankful for it. Pa wanted to call it communion and add a little wine, but Big Mil wouldn't hear of that and said he would be struck down by lightnin' next time he took his fishin' pole to the creek if he kept talkin' like that on a Sunday.
Our Millie was only half listenin' to the grown up talk. Sometimes she listened real close and tried to figure out what it all meant and if there was anything she needed to know to help her grow up, or even make it through the day without gettin' yelled at. But sometimes it just made her mind tired and she tuned it all out. This was just what was happenin' today until Grandpa said something about things just gettin' good and then bad things happenin'. Uncle Frank started tellin' a story about Uncle Fuzzy hittin' some kind of a bump and losin' control of his tractor and wreckin' right there in the middle of the field just when his crop needed twndin' to and had been growin' so good, too. Seems Uncle Fuzzy hurt his back and had to crawl to the house and Aunt Nellie had gone to visit her friends in town and for some reason she locked the door. He had to stay outside and it started to rain and he had a hard time gettin' up the steps to the porch that he was soaked and in pain and usin' some words the preacher wouldn't approve of by the time Aunt Nellie got home about dark.
Big Mil and Grandma got to talkin' about all the bad things they knew about and the tragedies happenin' to friends and neighbors from years back and how it just didn't pay a person to get too happy or look at things as bein' good 'cause, sure as the world, somethin' bad was just around the corner ready to pounce on them. Our Millie got to thinkin' that Pearlie Gates had come to school Monday feelin' all happy and smilin' and by Thursday she had the chickenpox and was all itchy and sickly and she had never seen it comin'. Could it be that if you got too happy it blinded your eyes and shut down your mind to any possibility of bad things happenin'. Maybe youbshould just stay almost unhappy andwatchbreal careful to keep the bad away. Our Millie thought that was kind of scary.
This was all wearin' her out so she put her paper dolls together on the step and arranged their clothes nearby. Then she stretched out on her favorite blanket, the red and blue one with flowers around the border that Grandma had made for her. She enjoyed feelin' the sunshine on her face and before long she must have drifted off to sleep 'cause the voices started to get softer and farther away.
Our Millie didn't know how much time had passed or what woke her except there was somethin' wet ploppin' on her face. At first she thought it was old Tri-Pawed lickin' her to wake her up, but then there was a big crash and flash and a whirlwind pullin' on her blanket and she was instantly awake. All her sunshine was gone. All the joy had disappeared as she gathered up her soggy blanket around her and scrambled to the door. But then she stopped and looked around. What she saw made her sad. Her lovely paper dolls, Katie and Helen, were scattered on the ground by the porch. Their clothes were flying away in the wind and their faces looked so smudged and forlorn.
Had she done this? Had she been too happy? Was it her fault the dolls were drenched to death?
But then a strange thing happened as Our Millie looked up at the threatening black cloud above her. She thought she saw something bright peekin' around the corners and tryin' to show itself behind the sadness and anger of the storm. That made her smile 'cause she figured it all out in her mind. Maybe everybody had it all wrong. Maybe you can be sad when you get up and happiness can sneak up on you unexpected like. Maybe it was just the other way around and you didn't see it right. After all, when that cloud goes away and the rain passes, the sun will still be there and you might see a rainbow in the sky all bright and cheerful. And, if you are lucky and look real close it might even be a double one.
The family was inside the house. Pa and Grandpa had cleaned the fish they had caught and they were fryin' in the pan. Grandma was bakin' bread and every thin' smelled so good. Pa and Big Mil were laughin' at Billy Bug's tune on the guitar and it all felt so warm and good. That made the happiness start bubblin' up in Our Millie's heart again. When she opened the door she had to laugh at it all. Maybe there would be a little communion anyway, right there in the kitchen, even if Pa wasn't allowed to bring the wine.